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Something for April Fool’s Day — and the first day of (Inter-)National Poetry Month — from a king of fools. This episode of the Colbert Report aired on April 19, 2007. Colbert seems to genuinely like poetry, and has interviewed a number of poets on his show. I like the way this skit plays off the misconception popular with people who “just don’t understand poetry”: that a poem (or metaphor) is basically a code with one correct solution. I’m also impressed by Robert Pinksy’s stage presence and acting skills.
Here’s another interview with Williams in which he addresses more general concerns, also concluding with a reading of “Cassandra, Iraq.” This one was directed and produced by Mel Stuart for the Academy of American Poets.
I discovered this organization and its very fine videos completely by accident last night — just doing keyword searches on YouTube. It’s not entirely clear who the performers are on this particular film; the credits for the DVD as a whole are at the bottom of this page.
Iran has one of the richest poetry traditions in the world, so I’m very pleased to be able to feature some contemporary Iranian poets here, thanks to The Translation Project.
Patricia Smith is the reigning queen of slam, with four National Poetry Slam individual championship titles under her belt, and she’s a very fine poet on the page as well — her most recent book, Blood Dazzler, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award. So who better to kick off the spoken word category here? And with the inclusion of the Jeff Robinson Trio, this performance takes us back to the 1950s jazz-club roots of the modern American poetry reading tradition. My only gripe with this video is that it doesn’t supply the title of the poem.
For more on the Lizard Lounge Poetry Jam and the Jeff Robinson Trio, see their website. They’re in Cambridge, Massachusetts, apparently, and they do this every Sunday. For more videos, see their YouTube channel.